An example of a workflow can be anything from automating an accounts payable invoice review process, to the hiring and onboarding of an employee, to the process of reviewing and signing a contract. When people refer to a workflow, they often mean an implemented software or service that manages that business process for them. A workflow helps to eliminate the manual and repetitive tasks within a process, usually a document-heavy one.
An accounts payable workflow is the automation of the end-to-end operation of invoice processing. It helps eliminate the manual and repetitive tasks within the process from document collection (paper or digital), to when invoices are paid. Workflows are essential to a consistent, accurate and efficient accounts payable (AP) process. When people refer to “accounts payable workflow” they often mean an implemented software or service that manages that business process.
Processing invoices from intake through payment is not a profit center for any company. Because of this, many companies don’t spend much time, if any, optimizing this process. Instead many rely on the age-old “this is how it’s always been done” mindset with no real measurement around it beyond “did it get paid in time.” The best operations, however, are always boiling down each process to a cost per number. For accounts payable, that number is cost per invoice. When considering the options for AP process automation, it's impossible to determine if there is value in changing your current process if you don’t know what it's costing you to process an invoice today.
A shared services center (SSC) is where back office functions, such as Accounts Payable (AP), are centralized. It allows a company to combine resources from multiple operating entities or even separate business units into one single layer center. For example, instead of having an AP department in every state or even country you operate in, you can have one regional or global AP shared services center.
Keeping track of your accounts receivable and accounts payable is key to understanding profitability as a business. Over the past decade, the majority of large corporations have found ways to leverage accounting software and data capture tools to automate their entire process around reviewing invoices. Tools for this are expensive, but at their size, this is a necessity that ultimately produces an ROI for the company due to their large volumes of invoices every month.
With the onset of increased amounts of invoices due to your business growth, it is more challenging than ever for accounts payable departments to get their invoices reviewed, approved and paid on time. Not only is this a large concern for growing businesses, but so is the need to budget for more accounts payable employees to get through the workload if your process is not automated.